Member of Team USA Competes in Paralympic ArcheryMember of Team USA Competes in Paralympic Archery


Archery—using a bow to shoot arrows—was invented thousands of years ago as a method of hunting and combat. Today, archery is mainly practiced as an amateur and competitive sport. No matter the target, archers must demonstrate precision, focus and consistency.

In 1948, the first Stoke Mandeville Games—the predecessor to the Paralympic Games—included an archery competition for veterans with physical impairments. And in 1960, archery was included in the first Paralympic Games in Rome.

The rules of Paralympic competition are almost identical to those of Olympic competition. The object of the sport is to shoot arrows as close to the center of a target as possible. The target is divided into 10 scoring zones, with the outer ring worth one point and a bullseye worth 10 points.



First archery competition for individuals with physical impairments held at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the United Kingdom

Men’s and women’s archery included in the program of the first Paralympic Games in Rome

First World Archery Para Championships held in Stoke Mandeville

Responsibility for para archery transferred from the International Paralympic Committee to the World Archery Federation (WA), the international governing body for archery


The Paralympic archery program includes men’s and women’s individual events as well as mixed-gender team events, with two participants on each team. The Paralympic Games include nine (three men’s, three women’s and three mixed team) archery events. These events are Open Recurve, Open Compound and W1 (usually compound).

In individual events, every archer shoots a qualification round of 72 arrows, divided into 12 ends of six arrows each. Each athlete is allowed four minutes per end. The score earned on those 72 shots determines the ranking for the finals events, which are single-elimination matches.


As in Olympic competition, Paralympic targets are 1.22 meters (4 feet) in diameter. Depending on the event, archers may use a recurve bow, which is made of limbs, a grip and a string, or a compound bow, whose system of pulleys and cables enable greater power with less effort.


Vocab lesson: A bowman is an archer, the draw is the act of pulling back the bow string in preparation to take a shot and a nock is the notch at the end of an arrow that rests against the bow string.

Light the fire: At the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992, Spanish Paralympian Antonio Rebollo shot a flaming arrow to light the Olympic Flame at the Opening Ceremony—igniting heightened interest in Paralympic archery.

Para means equality: In some cases, Paralympic archers qualify for able-bodied competition. These archers may be allowed to use assistive devices during competition.

You may need binoculars: Paralympic archers shoot arrows at targets 70 meters (230 feet) away—more than three-quarters of a football field!

Do the math: With 72 arrows and a top score of 10 for each, a perfect archery score is 720.

Athlete Spotlight:

Matt Stutzman

Matt Stutzman may have been born without arms, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking full advantage of life. Encouraged by his adopted parents to be independent, Stutzman learned to perform almost every activity without special accommodation. His family recognized his natural inclination for athletics and supported him in pursuing everything from hunting to football, which he does the same way he does everything else: with his feet.

As an adult, Stutzman discovered archery and quickly fell in love with the sport. His self-taught shooting method is novel: he holds the bow with his right foot, hooks his release aid to his right shoulder and shoots by moving his jaw to pull the trigger.

Dubbed the "Armless Archer" by popular media, Stutzman has gained acclaim over the past several years for his long list of accomplishments, including setting national records and a 2011 Guinness World Record for longest accurate shot (230 yards)—which he broke in 2015 with a shot of 310 yards. Stutzman took home silver in the individual compound open event at the Paralympic Games London 2012. He regularly competes alongside (and defeats) able-bodied archers.

Outside archery, Stutzman raises three children with his wife, Amber, and travels the world delivering motivational speeches—often aimed at encouraging others with disabilities to look beyond their impairment and work toward their own dreams. And his dream? It’s quite simple: to be the best archer in the world.

Althete Spotlight Matt Stutzman


Paralympic archery competition is open to male and female athletes with physical impairments, including amputationsDefinition: Amputate: to cut (as a limb) from the body., spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsyDefinition: Damage to the central nervous system. and traumatic brain injuries. At the Paralympic Games, sport classes are divided into two groups—open and W1. Depending on the sport class, athletes may be allowed to shoot using assistive devices such as prostheticsDefinition: An artificial body part, such as a leg or arm.. In other international competitions, visually impaired athletes may compete in a third sport class.

Note: The models presented below are examples. A classification evaluation must be performed to determine an athlete’s sport class(es).

Physical Impairment

Visual Impairment

Intellectual Impairment




Athletes in this sport class compete in a wheelchair due to impairments of the trunk and legs. Their arms may also show loss of muscle coordination or range of movement, or they may be amputated. These atheltes may shoot either a recurve or a compound bow that has been modified for the athlete.

Impairment Severity Scale

 Competes in


Athletes in this sport class may have an impairment in the legs and use a wheelchair or have a balance impairment and shoot standing or resting on a stool. They may shoot either a recurve or a compound bow.

Impairment Severity Scale

 Competes in